stream river lake river stream – Vanessa Billy

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stream river lake river stream – Vanessa Billy
29th August – 10th October 2009.

Swiss artist Vanessa Billy (b.1978) divides her time between the UK and Switzerland. stream river lake river stream has developed during Billy’s recent residency at Atelier Leimbach near Zurich and includes sculpture, collage and Billy’s first video work.

The works shown iterate and reiterate several essential motifs with subtle variations; this is a testing ground for refined processes. Investigations of ideas – such as the formation of materials, cyclical changes of matter, or the encounter between materials and forces – are carried out in dialogue with the physical parameters of BolteLang. This continuation of Billy’s practice evinces her engagement with media, her aim not to demonstrate a discrete concept, but to work through ideas in close interaction with materials.

Learning body is a single-shot video framing two bars upon which gymnasts practise swings. The metal bars remain constant, whether bearing weight or being axes on which the girls spin. In other works, rotation remains potential. I twist, you turn consists of two large concrete discs between which a towel is twisted tight; whether the weights are poised before, or resting after movement is not clear. The fabric is a taut negotiation between the two elements, echoing Billy’s sculptural process in general, and suffused with potential for further interaction.

Other cycles and forces are less tangible than wringing and moulding; The weather is made of a clear film stretching over one area of the gallery, weighed down by water gathering in its centre. Water is frequently the visual expression of other mechanical forces in sculpture; it is a challenge to demonstrate its inherent physicality. The weather simultaneously presents the risk of sudden collapse and a gradual, indiscernible process of evaporation, further mediated by the presence of spectators whose breath affects the room’s humidity. As stream river lake river stream suggests, the artist is interested in natural processes, but toys too with existing paradoxes. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus noted how different changing waters manifest one river, which proposes logic in a flow of water from origin to resting place and back to origin.

In 2009 Billy has exhibited solo at the Photographers Gallery in London, and has been included in exhibitions at the Lisson Gallery, London, curated by Richard Wentworth and the CRAC, Alsace, curated by Felicity Lunn.

Aoife Rosenmeyer

Exhibition documentation